Written by Suraj Shah.
Soon after the death of a loved one, emotions are all over the place.
There is so much to organise. Relatives fly in from around the world. Family and friends call up and come round to support, arriving early and staying till late.
During such a delicate time, close family members experiencing the loss need something to help bring calm to the madness.
Calm during chaos
In the timeless Jain tradition, we have one such method to bring about calm at a time of chaos.
Within a day or so of the death, we hold a prayer meeting. Distant family and friends of the bereaved and other members of the community congregate in a hall, giving them the chance to offer their condolences to the family.
What I value the most during these two hour sessions are the songs that are sung. These “vairagya na stavano” are songs from the Jain and other Indian traditions that bring about detachment.
What is detachment and why is it important at a time of loss?
In our day to day lives, we spend so much time indulging in objects of the senses, constantly being seduced by the desires of our body and its constant demands.
We succumb to likes and dislikes in pretty much everything we do. These attractions and aversions bring about damaging emotions of anger, greed, ego and deceit.
When we lose someone that we like so much it is easy to fall into a sorrowful and bitter state – but there is a way to rise above it.
Detachment cultivates freedom from attractions (likes) and aversions (dislikes).
Songs that help bring about detachment, the “vairagya na stavano”, result in calm and clarity in our lives.
These songs paint a compassionate picture of how:
- The soul is separate from the body.
- Even though the body is momentary, the true self (soul) lives forever.
- Nothing we do can change someone else’s destiny.
- Nothing we do can change our own current situation.
- We have great power to influence our own future experiences.
- We have great power to remain calm no matter what we are experiencing right now.
- There are those who are completely liberated from suffering.
- There are those who are in a state of abundant, infinite and eternal bliss.
- Those liberated souls presently in a state of eternal bliss have left a path for us to attain it too.
- Having faith in words of these wonderfully compassionate souls and patiently treading the path they have shared will bring about great calm and clarity in our lives.
At a time of sorrow and chaos, attaining a sense of calm seems fairly straightforward.
In your faith, tradition or community, what calm inducing rituals do you take part in?